Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Playground Woes

Last summer we moved, again.  Does anyone else think 6 moves in 6 years of marriage is too many?  Oh wait, that is not the point I want to make here!  Anyway, we chose our condo because our front door opens to a playground.  We thought that would make doing without a yard much easier on the kids.  This playground right outside my front door is providing me with lots of learning opportunities and hard choices to make.  And I always thought the playground was a place where kids live and learn...

Here is a summary of today's playground adventures.  A 3 year old neighbor boy knocked on our door (just like every day).  He is often out there playing for hours with no parents in sight.  They can see him most of the time, but at a distance.  Ugh!  "Can Tabby and Oliver come out to play?"  We all got our shoes on and went out.  His sister age 5, and 2 other neighbor boys (about 5 or 6) were playing as well.  Tabby and Oliver started playing with them and then one of the boys started calling Tabby names.  I waited a little while to see how she would respond, if she would know how to speak up for herself and tell him to stop.  She didn't, so I told him to stop calling her names, that he needed to be kind, etc.  I took the time to privately explain to Tabby what to do when someone is being unkind.

The kind and tenderhearted part of me feels very sorry for these kids who are often out there without the interaction of parents.  They always want to talk to me and the 3 year old repeatedly needs to be rescued from high places.  Some days I have the extra energy to pour lots of love into their little lives.  But I must admit, some days my own kids have swallowed almost every drop of energy I have.  And I find it challenging to answer the door day after day ready to provide playground duty for parents that I'm a bit frustrated with.

So, on with the story.  After a while, another mom came with her kids (age 3 and 1 1/2 years).  My kids play with her kids pretty often and they are very sweet and blessed by a mom who gives them lots of attention.  Today, Tabby was having a hard time sharing and was not being kind to "Fred" (age 3) who wanted to borrow her trike.  Tabby received more instruction on behavior and how to interact with others!  Then "Fred" went and asked the group of kids with no parents present if he could play with them.  These kids told him no and tried to show him something else to do so he wouldn't want to play with them.  He was so sad.  His mom was so sad, but did not say anything.  This time I did not confront the kids because I was unsure of my role since "Fred's" mom was there.

Now I find myself frustrated that I did not speak up again and talk to the kids about treating everyone with kindness.  If I was not there to correct my own children, I would want someone else to insist that my kids showed kindness to others.  I think I felt intimidated because I don't know most of these kids' parents and I really don't know how they would respond to me telling their kids how to behave.  Plus they know exactly where I live!  Next time I will not be quiet and watch.  I will speak up!  This shy, introverted, conflict-avoiding girl is going to share her mind!  I just pray that I can do so with lots of love for these kids.  And I will try to shower them with lots of positive attention before it is necessary for me to provide any correction.

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